Sweden turns goal to reach carbon neutrality in 2045 into law

Sweden has officially committed to reach carbon neutrality by 2045, as the country’s government reports on its website. The Swedish parliament has passed a new climate policy law on Thursday, June 15. The parliamentary vote ended 254 against 41, with only the extreme-right Swedish Democrats refusing to give their consent according to Climate Home. The law had been drafted by a Cross-Party Committee that involved the other seven parties currently represented in the Swedish parliament.

The legislation will take effect from January 1, 2018. The bill was presented and signed by Swedish Deputy Prime Minister Isabella Lovin in February this year. Therefore, the parliamentary vote represented the last remaining step for the bill to become effective and turn into law. Already before, Sweden aimed to reach carbon neutrality by 2050 with its Climate Roadmap 2050, which was, however, not of legally-binding nature.

The law also sets out, how the goals are intended to be achieved. For instance, the government has to present a climate report every year and every fourth year, it has to present a climate policy action plan. Moreover, a climate policy council is established, which is tasked with evaluating the progress on the climate goals. Specifically, the law defines also intermediary emission reduction targets for 2030 and 2040.

As a result, Sweden is the first country that has significantly revised its climate ambition upwards since the adoption of the Paris Agreement. The decision contrasts the backsliding on the Paris commitment by the United States after the announcement of President Donald Trump to withdraw from the global climate deal.

Sweden already has a large share of electricity generated from clean energy, particularly from hydropower and nuclear power plants. Therefore, the new climate policy framework focuses on the transport sector with the aim to reduce respective emissions by 70 percent from 2010 levels until 2030. In 2014, Sweden had also called on the EU to raise its current emission reduction goal from 40 to 50 percent by 2030.

With the adoption of the new climate law, Sweden joins three other countries that have already decided to reach carbon neutrality – namely Costa Rica, the Maldives and Norway. The latter strives, however, to reach the goal largely by offsetting emissions with foreign carbon credits. But also Sweden plans to offset emissions, as the target remains to reduce 85 percent of domestic GHG emissions until 2045.

Meanwhile, Reuters reports that Sweden’s largest national pension fund, AP7, has divested from six large fossil fuel companies, including Exxon Mobil and Gazprom. It justified the move by contending that the firms are acting against the Paris Agreement. Exxon Mobil actually stated its support to Paris Agreement, but it is currently under official investigations as it is suspected to have mislead the public with respect to climate change.

 

(Image: Lake Nitsajärvi, Torasjärvi, Lappland, Sweden. Photo credit: Henrik Johansson/flickr)